Green tea leaves produce Sencha (煎茶)
The standard and most common form of Japanese tea. It is a green tea which accounts for approximately 80% of the tea sold in Japan. The reason for its popularity? A quality tea at a reasonable price and is probably the best green tea for everyday use.
Our Sencha Premium is one of the highest quality green teas available, being carefully selected from Uji Sencha.
Sencha contains more of the beneficial nutrient catechin than other green teas, because it is grown in full sunlight, thus it becomes yellowish green in colour. Sencha tastes gently astringent and smells wonderfully fresh.
Sencha Tea (煎茶) Harvest
Japanese tea is harvested 3 – 4 times a year. Depending on the season of harvest and cultivation process it will have a mix of catechins that create astringency and amino acids (particularly L-theanine) that create a sweet-savoriness called umami (the fifth taste). Once the leaves are picked they are “fixed” by steaming, then rolled into a needle-like shape, and dried.
Our Sencha Premium’s tea leaves are sprouts that are small and soft and not fully-grown. They are difficult to find even in Ichibancha (the first pick of the year). Although generally the best time to gather tea leaves is when the tea tree has five sprouts, our Sencha Premium’s tea leaves are gathered when the tea tree has only three sprouts. It is said that because the sprouts are younger, Sencha Premium’s aroma and taste is much more mellow and refreshing.
Finished in the traditional Uji/Kyoto style.
Green tea leaves produce Matcha (抹茶)
Matcha Tea needs little introduction and has become a most popular tea in the USA and Europe. It is usually categorized by the quality of the matcha powder used, the time of harvest, the grinding method, and whether it is organic or non-organic. Some familiar terms used to classify matcha tea are explained below but there is no industry definition. The following terms are usually adopted by western tea companies who can really create whatever labels they want and there is no governing body to regulate this. Traditionally, in Japan, there were just two grades; ceremonial grade and then everything else. In reality there were really three grades, ceremonial, premium, and culinary, which were also available as organic or non-organic. Determining the quality of the matcha tea powder can be difficult. There are some companies selling premium grade matcha as ceremonial grade matcha. Ultimately the taste will be the deciding factor for most people.
Matcha Tea (抹茶) Harvest
Machine harvested leaves are slightly less premium than handpicked leaves, but it is the harvest season which really determines the quality of the matcha. Spring harvested leaves, when the plant is at its peak in leaf production, are the most valued, while summer or autumn leaves are often used for lower quality latte or culinary grade matcha products.
Green tea leaves produce Genmaicha (玄米茶)
Genmaicha is a green tea mixed with brown rice. Often called brown rice tea, usually a 1:1 mix of rice and bancha or sencha. This was known as the people’s tea as the rice was used as a filler to reduce the price and make it more affordable for all.
Our Genmaicha is a mellow blend of roasted and puffed brown rice grains and Sencha. Due to the rice, this tea has the rich and hearty flavour of roasted grains of coffee but the freshness of Sencha.
This high quality Genmaicha has a taste and aroma which is much more flavourful and smooth than any other Genmaicha available on the market.
Genmaicha (玄米茶) Tea Harvest
Sencha (used to make our Genmaicha) contains more of the beneficial nutrient catechin than other green teas, because it is grown in full sunlight, thus it becomes yellowish green in colour. Sencha tastes gently astringent and smells wonderfully fresh.
In many cases Genmaicha is made from a mix of puffed rice and low grade Sencha, low grade Nibancha (tea from the second harvest of the year) or Sanbancha (tea from the third harvest of the year). Our Genmaicha is made from only Ichibancha (tea from the first harvest of the year).
Green tea leaves produce Hojicha (焙じ茶)
Spring Harvest roasted green tea. Smooth, mellow, and low in caffeine.
Hojicha is a roasted green tea, usually roasted from bancha. Also spelled “hojicha” or “houjicha”. It often has a chocolaty aroma, is naturally sweet and slightly smoky to taste. Since Hojicha is pan-roasted, it is very low in caffeine. In Japan, Hojicha is commonly given to babies and people who are sick because it is both nourishing and low in caffeine. Besides, Hojicha is perfect for iced tea. It will cool you on a sizzling hot day. The flavour is very smooth and the aroma lingers nicely.
Hojicha – Roasting.
The first three processing steps of Hojicha tea leaves are the same as for Sencha: 1) Steaming, 2) Drying and crumpling, and 3) Shaping. But to make Hojicha, the tea goes through one special additional step: 4) Roasting. The unique toasted nutty flavour of Hojicha is created by the roasting.
Hojicha Tea (焙じ茶) Harvest
The tea leaves for our Hojicha, like our Sencha, is grown in full sunlight. This ensures the Hojicha has a high quantity of the very beneficial Catechin.
Top quality Hojicha such as ours depends on two very important factors:
- The geographich location of the tea farm. The geographic features which are able to produce the highest grade Sencha teas are also excellent for producing the leaves used for Hojicha. Only tea farms with the mineral-rich soil, located in the mountain ravines of Uji, is capable of producing Hojicha of this quality. The sloping hills, cool nights, warm days, and misty climate are ideal conditions for producing Hojicha. All of our Hojicha is grown only at tea farms suitable for growing the highest grade Sencha in the Uji region.
- Product freshness. The excellent roasted aroma diminishes with time. Hojicha usually keeps in good condition for a year or more if preserved appropriately. However, the excellent roasted aroma of Hojicha is best enjoyed within a few months after roasting.
Green tea leaves produce Gyokuro (玉露 )
Our Gyokuro Premium is one of the highest quality green teas produced in Japan. It has several unique features: an elegant aroma, a sweetness of taste, and a light green colour, after being carefully grown in the shade for 20 to 30 days before harvest.
The tea breed of this Gyokuro Premium is “Gokoh”, which has an excellent noble aroma suitable for Gyokuro. It is a very precious breed grown only in quite small amounts exclusively in the Uji region of Kyoto, Japan.
Gyokuro Tea Harvest (玉露 )
Top quality Gyokuro is harvested in the spring. While the processing is the same as Sencha, Gyokuro is cultivated by shading for approximately three weeks prior to harvest. Various agricultural techniques are also used to create a concentration of flavor in the leaves. The result is a leaf that has a much higher amino acid content, and will steep into a rich, savory tea syrup.
Gyokuro Premium is grown in the shade before harvest by the way of “Tana” which requires skilful technique and great care. Noble aroma and elegant sweetness are created by the shading from sunlight with the “Tana” technique.